You have to take your hat off to our expert. For the day the Cycling Mole came home to Diego Ulissi, Diego Ulissi came home for him.
Chapeau too, to Ulissi himself. The UAE Team Emirates rider has two stages from this Giro to take him to eight across his career. And no other major race results. You might think he'd have at least a Tirreno-Adriatico or two to his name, but narp. A couple of Tour of Slovenia titles, a single GP de Montréal and... that's it. Big up a rider who can make an entire career out of racing for three weeks each year. The Deserter would be proud.
In the race for the overall, João Almeida continues to increase his lead thanks to high stage placings that allow him to pick up a few seconds here, and a few seconds there. Is there any reason to think want had looked like a loose grip on the maglia rosa won't rather resemble a strangehold by the end of the day?
For yes, Stage 14 brings us the second time trial of the race. I know, right? In this economy? It's Filippo Gannas to lose, surely? You'd be a fool not to back him. Not so fast say our panel. Yes, yes so fast says the Cycling Mole.
If it weren’t for the fact that João Almeida has been riding hard every day protecting the leader’s jersey, I would rather fancy his chances against Ganna on this particular course. I certainly expect Almeida to put serious time into most of the other GC riders. But as it is, Ganna has had the luxury of taking it relatively easy these past few days after having been so active in breaks at the beginning of the week. Ganna’s been on fire this Giro, and I am sure he has been planning very carefully how to take the second time trial of this very unpredictable Giro.
It'll be Ganna. Of course it will be. The only real question is by how much he'll win. And who will come second and third, I suppose, but despite the disturbing drift in the commentary, there are no minor podium places for a stage race result. Who will be the biggest winner in the GC also matters but it seems to me that that'll be the man in pink already.
Josef Černý - CCC
Any cautionary fellow can name the favourite; it takes a true gambler to roll the dice down the order. With no contract next year (that we know of) the Czech champ is riding for his career. One of only two CCC riders to take a win of any kind this year, I reckon he can get them onto the top step in a WorldTour race for the first (and probably only) time in 2020. Go Josef, go!
I've enjoyed watching Almeida's Quick Step defend the maglia rosa. They brought what, on paper, looked like a team of freelancers but what has, on the road, turned out to be a squad of super lieutenants. I'm expecting the pink skinsuit and the pressure of going last to bring out the best in the Portugese youngster and take him to within a week (at most) of GC glory.
The Cycling Mole says...
Well then boys and girls, I did try and tell you. My Jose Mourinho impression worked and my boy Diego took the stage. Get it up all you Sagan backers!
Stage 14 and a TT. Unless you’ve spent the last couple of months on the moon, you know there’s only one option for this one. Ben thinks that Černŷ will win. Now, I’ve had a few glasses of Prosecco, but even I can’t work this one out. Well done Ben, you’ve outdone yourself. I can’t poke fun at Miles’s pick of Almeida, but he’s not going to win. Going deep day after day takes it's toll, winning this will need a monster of a ride.
This is another win for Pippo Ganna, my favourite Pippo since Inzaghi.